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I've known and ridden with a fair number of women captains. It is also fairly common for similarly sized tandem teams to swap spots every so often (however, once you have some experience as a captain and a stoker you are likely to prefer stoking (IMO it is a lot more fun)).

The real issue for most couples buying tandems is that the larger/stronger person is usually the man. The captain on a tandem has the only clear view of the road directly ahead and has to do most of the steering and balance the bike at stops and starts. Therefore it makes sense that the larger/stronger person be on the front of the bike-hence the man is usually on the front.

Even when the tandem team is same sex the larger person is commonly found on the front.

OTOH if the smaller person can stand over the front of the tandem and the stoker doesn't try to overpower the captain and the pair put enough miles/time in riding together it would seem to me that there would be some aerodynamic advantages to having the smaller person (regardless of sex) on the front of the bike.

It is all good.

BTW Andrea I'd stoke for you anytime (not c()d3) but you would probably scare the heck out of me on the downhills. Miss M would probably love to stoke for you as she finds my downhill style a little conservative.

BTW2 When I worked at Santana years ago we did have orders for custom tandems for short captains and tall stokers. Considering how much tandems cost custom isn't all that much more expensive.
 

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Impulse Athletic Coaching
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MB1 said:
OTOH if the smaller person can stand over the front of the tandem and the stoker doesn't try to overpower the captain and the pair put enough miles/time in riding together it would seem to me that there would be some aerodynamic advantages to having the smaller person (regardless of sex) on the front of the bike.
Why? The frontal area is still the same, isn't it?
 

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......Also a matter of weight distribution.

As the other posts have noted, usually with a male/female team, the man is usually taller/heavier & stock tandems are sized and designed for a taller/heavier captain. That's not to say there are plenty of exceptions! The key to the formula is weight distribution. Stock tandems do not handle very well with the heavier team member in the stoker position, the steering becomes too light and the tandem becomes very hard to steer straight!! But again, I have seen exceptions at plenty of tandem rallies and suspect that with practice teams overcome the phenomena!! :thumbsup:
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks for the entertaining & informative answers :D

I just wanted to know since if I were to tandem w/my man, I would be sitting behind someone who is 6'3", and not being able to see what's in front of me would annoy me to no end. He's not really that heavy though (165 pounds), so it makes me wonder if it would really effect the handling.

Not getting a tandem anytime soon, but just thinking hypothetically...
 

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i think the real reason is most tandems are built to handle a larger size up front and a smaller in the back. Just traditional...

I'm not sure if we dropped the front saddle all the way if my wife could reach the pedals... the rear bars are mounted on the seat post so it is limited how far it can drop. (old schwinn twinn)

but for better aerodnamics it's best to have the shorter, skinnier rider in the back...
not that our schwinn ever goes fast enough for that to matter! That thing is an iron tank!
 

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I know this from experience :)

The only way I could get my girlfriend (~140, 5'6") on a tandem with me (180 6'4") is if I let her captain. It was the most unstable ride in the world. She couldn't hold me up at stoplights, keep it steady as we got started or hold a straight line over bumps. I'm not sure if it was a geometry issue, since we had to slame the captain seat all the way down and raise mine up to the top, but we were wobbly as hell. When we switched places it went much more smoothly and now she'll voluntarily ride stoker.
 

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My boyfriend and I are contemplating doing a double on a tandem and I am looking forward to alternating captain/stoker roles, at least while doing training rides. We are similar heights and weights (well, I outweigh him slightly, having a sprinter type physique while he is a scrawny climber type). He's a much stronger rider though. I've heard anecdotal talk that the stronger rider should be the captain, but have seen no mechanical evidence or rationale for this statement. Any thoughts on this?
 

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NadiaMac said:
My boyfriend and I are contemplating doing a double on a tandem and I am looking forward to alternating captain/stoker roles, at least while doing training rides. We are similar heights and weights (well, I outweigh him slightly, having a sprinter type physique while he is a scrawny climber type). He's a much stronger rider though. I've heard anecdotal talk that the stronger rider should be the captain, but have seen no mechanical evidence or rationale for this statement. Any thoughts on this?
I suspect that you are more than strong enough to control the bike if your stoker doesn't push the pace too hard. It is tough to keep everything in control if the stoker keeps trying to accelerate and the captain doesn't want to.

Communication is the key for this one.
 

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Weight distribution is important also. You want the majority of mass forward for proper handling, braking etc. With most of the stopping power happening up front, it would prove futile, if not fatal, to not have enough weight on the front wheel. That said, I've always wanted to try my hand at stoking but at 6'4"x 200lbs It would take a BIG captain to run the ship.
 

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Andrea138 said:
Thanks for the entertaining & informative answers :D

I just wanted to know since if I were to tandem w/my man, I would be sitting behind someone who is 6'3", and not being able to see what's in front of me would annoy me to no end. He's not really that heavy though (165 pounds), so it makes me wonder if it would really effect the handling.

Not getting a tandem anytime soon, but just thinking hypothetically...
Funny you should mention this- I think the same thing about tandeming with my wife. Not that I`m tall, but she`s sub-5 ft. I was kind of wondering how it would work to put drop bars on front and flat bars in back. But just like you, it`s all hypothetical- we don`t have a tandem and just rent one occasionally to ride the kiddie trails in the park.
 
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